Warren Throckmorton has been watching prominent evangelical Christian pastors and leaders during this election cycle, documenting how these “court evangelicals” support Donald Trump. Two days ago, Throckmorton wrote a blog post asking, “Trump’s Denial of Election Reality: Will Court Evangelicals Play Along?”
The answer, of course, is “yes.” Many prominent white evangelical pastors continue to support Trump, and are now issuing statements accusing Joe Biden of stealing the election.
While these pastors doubtless think they are doing the Lord’s work, sadly what they are really doing is undermining organized religion. The many American citizens who are not white evangelicals are going to watch this kind of behavior — tweets that undermine democratic process, statements that deny reality — and begin to wonder about Christian churches. And by extension, wonder about the purpose of all organized religion — read the comments, and you’ll find someone calling for an end to tax-exempt status for religious organizations.
I’m a bit resentful because even though I’m about as far from these white evangelical pastors as you can possibly be (OK, I am white, too, but there aren’t many other similarities), as a minister I’m going to experience an erosion of trust because of the way they come across as hypocritical (Christians implicitly inciting violence), violating the separation of church and state, and out of touch with reality.
Sadly, these “court evangelicals” will not drive away the white evangelicals who fill their churches — but they will reduce the overall number of people who are willing to have anything to do with organized religion. So I predict an upwards tick in the “nones,” those with no religious affiliation, following this election.
Equally sadly, I’m increasingly convinced that what these “court evangelicals” do is really politics, not religion. So they’re destroying organized religion, but not actually doing religion themselves.